“I just want to be able to fly!” says 14-year-old Kayla Adams. Adams, an incoming high school freshman, just made the cheerleading squad and seems fearless about the idea of being tossed into the air – a zest for life that almost concealed an ever decreasing energy and stamina level, according to her mom.
Kayla’s courageous attitude and strong will have helped her remain fearless in the most fearful of situations.
Born with a Complete Atrioventricular Canal Defect, a condition in which a hole in the heart prevents normal blood flow, Kayla experienced her first heart surgery at 3-days-old. In and out of the hospital for the first years of her life, Kayla has had 3 heart surgeries but remained healthy until March 2009, when her heart began to fail.
That’s when she and her family met St. Louis Children’s Hospital Cardiologist Dr. David Blazer, and when Kayla became one of the first in the Midwest to receive a new kind of heart valve.
Kayla received one of the area’s first Medtronic Melody Heart Valves. The valve is inserted through a catheter in the groin to repair a damaged conduit. The conduit was surgically implanted when Kayla was a baby to correct blood flow from the heart. By successfully repairing the conduit with the new valve, inserted via transcatheter, Kayla was able to delay or avoid open heart surgery.
Approved by the FDA in February 2010, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of the first hospitals to implant the Melody Heart Valve. “It’s exciting for the patients and their families,” says Dr. Balzer. “They do not look forward to a lifetime of repeated operations, so for them this is a big deal. And for us, it’s very exciting to be able to participate in that.”
Kayla was able to go home after one night in the hospital, and recovered from the procedure after one week - much faster than if she’d had open-heart surgery.
Kayla and her family plan to take a vacation to Myrtle Beach later this summer. With the implantation of her new heart valve, Kayla will feel more energetic and healthy.”
“I’m really hoping that it gives her a whole lot more energy, so she’s able to do more activities – that she is able to enjoy being with friends, being able to go swimming, and hanging out,” says Dora Eitel, Kayla’s mom. Kayla has been limited from certain physical activities due to her condition. With the Melody Heart Valve, Kayla plans to begin cheerleading practice at the beginning of the school year. Until then, Kayla’s advice to others, and her own personal motto: “Don’t be afraid.”